One of the paths of yoga is Karma Yoga, the practice of seva, also known as selfless service. Swami Jaya Devi speaks about seva and how serving without selfish motives supports spiritual growth:
There are many volunteer opportunities that might appeal to you. Whether it is for an afternoon… or even just an hour, there are possibilities. Our main public service programs are KidsArt at the Children’s Hospital and our weekly Street Meals project, coordinated with a downtown Atlanta shelter.
Your participation will make a difference. There are numerous hourly, weekly, monthly and spontaneous ways to serve others. By diving into one of our volunteer programs you will create an opportunity of deep personal spiritual growth by giving back to something bigger than you.
Volunteer opportunities include:
There are lots of other opportunities to get involved at Kashi Atlanta, whether you are able to commit to a weekly seva or periodically come by and help.
Ma’s Street Meals (preparation and distribution)
The core of our lineage of yoga is Baba Neem Karoli’s teaching “Feed everyone” — it is the guiding principle behind Kashi’s many seva programs.
Our longest running seva (selfless service) program is our Street Meals effort. Week in and week out, our devoted satsang (community) team prepares and serves lunch to the homeless. More than just a meal, we bring affirmation and love to the streets to the people who society renders invisible or otherwise scorns.
Since 1998, we haven’t missed a single week in delivering Street Meals. During these years we provided over 300 sack lunches each week at the Peachtree Pine shelter, until it closed in August 2017. We now have the amazing opportunity to serve at three locations: Clifton Sanctuary, Lost & Found Youth, and Atlanta Mission Men's Shelter - The Shepherd's Inn.
Ma’s vital teaching, “There are no throw-away people”, is at the heart of our Street Meals program. Perhaps more critically than the meal, Street Meals volunteers bring a smile, a hug, a genuine connection to our homeless friends as that is a means of feeding people, too.
Opportunities to serve:
**Currently our volunteer opportunities are on hold as we navigate through COVID-19. We are still serving with a small, limited group of volunteers following best safety practices**
On Tuesdays, volunteers prepare a meal for delivery on Wednesday. This effort takes place in our downstairs kitchen area from 6:30 to about 8:00 pm.
On Wednesdays, we deliver and serve the meal at SafeHouse. Folks gather at 10:30 am at the ashram and then travel downtown together. We are usually back at the ashram by 12:30 pm.
We are also having Holiday Street Meals: a once a year effort to bring the joy of the season to our Street Meals Friends. Assist in the work of gathering the supplies (blankets, backpacks, gloves, etc.) and goodies for 250 wonderful packages of much-needed items.
Opportunities to Give:
Not able to give us your time? You can head over to our Donation Page and make a monetary contribution towards out Street Meals program. No about is too small. Thank you!
We would love your participation as we cannot take care of our Street Meals Friends without volunteers!
You can get started simply by showing up! You can also sign up through Hands On Atlanta.
“Medicine cures the body, but Art cures the Spirit”
KidsArt is a Kashi seva program where volunteers get to draw from their own creativity and compassion to work with children being treated at local hospitals. The arts and crafts projects help to engage the kids and their families, taking their minds off their pain, anxiety and illness. Illness can rob a child of their identity. When the child proudly displays their Kids Art project, they reveal a bit of their inner being; no longer just the cancer kid in room 3012, the child is seen, unveiling their creative, shining spirit.
Twice a month, Kashi takes art projects to CHOA Egelston Hospital, and provides an opportunity for patients and their families to get out of their rooms and make art. Volunteers help the children make projects like paper bag puppets, mobiles, holiday crafts, and mixed-media paintings.
Being in a hospital can be a scary and uneasy situation for children and their families. Many times we get a sense that the parents and siblings are in just as much need of the art projects as the patients. The children and families leave with a project to hang in their rooms and big smiles on their faces. “I almost forgot I was at the hospital with an IV”, was the comment from a 6 year old transplant kid on a recent Sunday afternoon.
Volunteers keep coming back to KidsArt because they enjoy working with the children, some of whom are long-term patients they see regularly. KidsArt is a special way to give back to community and touch the hearts of suffering children.
Kashi Care Team
Assistance and loving compassion for ill people
The Kashi Care Team provides assistance and loving compassion to the catastrophically ill, including those living with, AIDS/HIV, cancer, and/or other illnesses.
Care Team members visit Care Team recipients at their home, run errands for them, prepare, deliver and serve meals to them and their family, and provide whatever support they can, including at times spending the night. The Kashi Care Team has adopted specific recipients for care, and also functions as a support group for those in attendance as they support friends and families of their own with health challenges and with respect to issues around death and dying.
Kashi Jail Yoga
“There are no throwaway people.”
— Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati
Since January 2008, it’s been Kashi Atlanta’s honor to provide yoga instruction and share the teachings of our lineage of yoga to groups of 4-12 incarcerated women participating in STOP (Substance Abuse Treatment Offenders Program) at the DeKalb County Jail in nearby Decatur.
Collaborating with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, Jail Services Division, this 90‐day program is offered to incarcerated substance abuse offenders. The program is intended to reduce recidivism by breaking the cycle of substance abuse, crime and incarceration. In addition, it is intended to educate participants on the complex social, personal and family needs which have interfered with their ability to live healthy and constructive lives outside of the criminal justice system. Nearly 200 women have participated in this program since its inception.
And, due to its success thus far, the program is growing! As part of the Jail’s Pilot Program, yoga has expanded with two classes for the general population of female inmates and a new class now being offered for the men in the STOP program, all on Saturday mornings.
As part of the yoga classes, the teachers use Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati’s book, The 11 Karmic Spaces, to provide tools and insights for the students. This book has become the foundation for the jail yoga classes and copies of the book are made available to the inmates.
Want to help?
Donate to the book fund and make this invaluable tool available to our Jail Yogis.
Donate used books (soft cover only) and magazines, especially yoga related content. Stimulating reading materials that support our Jail Yoga participants in between classes is very much in demand. Please deliver these materials to the front desk at the ashram.
Why we teach?
Perhaps it seems paradoxical to bring yoga to those that are incarcerated. In our view, it makes perfect sense: yoga engenders a depth of radical self-awareness in those who practice it whether inside or outside of a jail setting.
Women in the Yoga Program leverage their experience of self-awareness in Kashi Atlanta’s yoga classes in order to examine their deep-seated patterns of social, personal and family challenges.
These patterns often interfere with their ability to lead a healthy and constructive life outside of the criminal justice system.
We are deeply committed to the transformation of our participants’ lives. What is also interesting is observing how the program touches the lives of the yoga teachers who offer the yoga classes at the jail week in and week out – some of whom have experienced substance abuse or incarceration themselves.